Sugar cane has been cultivated in India for a long time. Sugar cane products find mention in Indian mythology and ancient writings. Evidence of the export of sugar cane from India to many countries including the middle east has proved the existence of trade since mediaeval and ancient times. Jaggery, which is a common food item, is widely produced in India from sugar cane.
The Sugar Cane Act of 1934 was created to address issues, such as total production, price, and sugar cane cultivation in India. The Sugar Cane Act of 1934 plays an important role in the lives of sugar cane cultivators as it sets an appropriate price for their produce. This Act was enforced to ensure a constant supply of sugar cane in the market. The Act balances the interests of sugar cane farmers and sugar mill owners.
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What is the Sugar Cane Act of 1934?
India’s first sugar mill was founded in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratappur, District-Deoria, in 1903. Sugar cane growers faced many challenges because an organised method was yet to be devised for selling crops. Sugar cane is a major cash crop for the country, and the sugar cane business is significant. The Sugar cane industry had to face unfair pricing methods, and unfair practices by factory owners, and a proper law regulating the sale of sugar cane was yet to be devised.
The first ‘Indian Sugar Committee’ was created in the 1920s by Lord Chelmsford, the then Governor General of India to regulate sugar cane production. The subcommittee of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research recommended the establishment of a ‘Tariff Board’, which came into force in 1930 and mandated the Indian Government to provide protection to the sugar industry for at least the first 15 years. The sugar industry was granted protection in 1931.
To ensure better pricing, improved working conditions, and efficient management of the sugar business in India, the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 was enacted before independence. This Act has a total of 8 Sections and it got its assent on 01 May 1934 before independence. The Sugar cane Development Department was created in Uttar Pradesh in 1935. The State Government was allowed to set the minimum price for sugar cane used by vacuum pan sugar mills when exercising its authority over any territory under the Sugar Cane Act of 1934.
Declaration of controlled areas and fixing of prices under the Sugar Cane Act of 1934
Section 3 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 details the establishment of regulated zones and fixing of prices.
- The government of a specific state can declare particular areas as controlled areas for the purposes given under this Act with the help of an official notification published in the Official Gazette.
- The government of the same state also has the power to establish a minimum price or a set of minimum prices. This minimum price is set for purchasing sugar cane within any controlled area, which is used in any factory.
- The government of the state, through official notification in the Official Gazette, has the right to prohibit the procurement of sugar cane brought into any factory within any controlled area from sources other than the grower of sugar cane. The Section prohibits such procurement of sugar cane from individuals who have received a licence from the state government to act as purchasing agents.
Previous notifications under Section 3 of the Sugar Cane Act, 1934
Section 4 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 states that before any notification is issued under either subsection (1) or subsection (2) of Section 3, within 30 days of publication of such notice, the state government should make the following arrangements:
- The state government has to publish a draft of the given notification in the Official Gazette.
- In this draft notification, the state government must specify a date for the draft to be open for consideration.
- The state government must consider any objections or suggestions submitted by individuals after the draft notification is issued. This consideration process must be completed before the specified date.
This process of objection and suggestion ensures public input and gives a review of the notification so published. This phenomenon ensures that stakeholders have an opportunity to raise concerns or provide suggestions regarding the content of the notifications before they become effective.
Penalty for the purchase of sugar cane in contravention of notification under the Sugar Cane Act 1934
Section 5 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 imposes a penalty on individuals purchasing sugar cane in contravention of this Act.
- Any individual who purchases sugar cane within a controlled area for using it in a factory, either at a price lower than the minimum price determined through notification under subsection (2) of Section 3 or in violation of any prohibition established under subsection (3) of Section 3 can be penalised.
- This penalty involves a fine of up to Rs 2000.
Sanction for prosecution under the Sugar Cane Act, 1934
Section 6 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 states how prosecution can be initiated.
A court is not permitted to initiate legal proceedings for any offence that can be punished under Section 5. Legal proceedings can be only initiated when a formal complaint is lodged. This complaint must be made as per the direction of the District Magistrate or authorised by the authority of the District Magistrate.
Power of State Governments to make rules
Section 7 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 states the following:
- The government of a specific state is authorised to create regulations through notification in the Official Gazette to facilitate the implementation of the objectives outlined in this Act.
- These regulations may encompass the following aspects:
- Conducting preliminary inquiries before exercising the powers of declaration under Section 3.
- Establishing Advisory Committees for matters related to the administration of this Act, including defining roles, authorities, and procedures of these committees.
- Issuing licences to purchasing agents, determining the fees for such licences, and regulating the buying and selling of sugar cane by these agents.
- Organising sugar cane growers into societies to facilitate the sale of sugar cane to factories.
- Designating authorities responsible for performing functions under this Act.
- Specifying the records, registers, and accounts that must be maintained to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Act.
When formulating any regulation under subsection (1) or under clauses (c) or (f) of subsection (2), the state government has the power to impose a fine of not exceeding Rs 2000 in case of a violation of rules and no other penalty is specified in this Act.
Power of State Government to make rules
Section 8 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 states that the government of a specific state has the authority to establish regulations after public notice is issued and is officially published in the Official Gazette.
These regulations include the provisions for granting exemptions to factories or specific categories of factories from the requirements of this Act.
The regulations created by the State Government under this Act must be presented before the state legislature as soon as possible after its formulation.
The Sugar Cane Act of 1934 benefitted affected sugar cane farmers. The statute gave them the ability to bargain collectively, which led to improved conditions for selling their products. The Act gave the sugar industry stability and imposed regulations on owners of sugar mills. In the future, the Act can be amended to include the requirement for sugar and its byproducts to be included and the promotion of financial stability of the sugar business along with it. The applicability and efficacy of the Act may be modified because of agricultural practices, technological developments, and shifts in crop production. Agricultural and industrial regulations can be affected by labour rights, social issues, and environmental concerns, which may result in changes or updates in the current legislation. International trade laws need to be modified by international trade agreements and obligations to include a clause for the redressal of such problems.
What is the penalty for the purchase of Sugarcane through illegal means under the Sugar Cane Act, 1934?
Section 5 of the Sugar Cane Act, of 1934 states that if someone buys sugar cane in a controlled area for a price below the minimum price stated in the notification or goes against any prohibitions specified in the notification, then they can be fined up to Rs 2000 as a punishment.
What is the sanction for the prosecution of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934?
Section 6 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 states that a legal action for offences under Section 5 can only be done if it is initiated through the formal channels established by the District Magistrate or their authorised representatives.
How is Section 7 of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 different from Section 8 of the Act?
Section 7 of the act states that the government of a specific state is authorised to make regulations through an official notification to facilitate the implementation of the objectives under the Act, and it can even impose fines if these rules are not followed. By contrast, Section 8 states that the state government can make rules for exempting certain factories from complying with the rules and provisions of this Act.
What is a Controlled Area under the Sugar Cane Act of 1934?
Section 2(1) of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 states that a ‘controlled area’ is an area that has been officially specified in a notification under Section 3(1) of the Act, which denotes that the state government can declare particular areas as controlled areas for the purposes under this Act.
What is a factory under the Sugar Cane Act of 1934?
Section 2(2) of the Sugar Cane Act of 1934 states that a ‘factory’ is a place where sugar production activities are performed with the involvement of at least 20 workers. Furthermore, such production is performed using electrical power.